Even though we’ve already had some knowledge about the tea industry and market, since this crazy eight-weeks race began we’ve had to do this research in a deeper way.
A very cool thing about this, is that I could meet Elyse Petersen, a cheerful, wonderful woman from Hawaii who is an entrepreneur herself, and is the founder of the startup company Tealet.com, a marketplace online to buy tea directly from the tea growers and connect them with the consumers.
Having the opportunity of contact her virtually was very exciting at the first time. I followed Tealet online from my personal accounts since last year and somehow got inspired by this amazing startup, and how much have they grown with innovating ideas and hard, honest, social orientated work; this is one of the things that led me to the decision of creating a startup myself and here we are, with Smartea App.
But it’s not only about meeting a possible future key partner, it’s about knowing the opinion of a true tea lover, from a customer point of view. When I first talked to Elyse on Skype, we talked about drinking tea and tea culture. As I was telling her our idea of developing a tea application, she looked very interested and said it would be nice to build a community around it, which I found marvelous, because one of my dream-goals is to make this a place where everyone can participate and talk about the wide universe of tea.
After few weeks of that first conversation, I talked again with Elyse to know her insights as a tea company owner, regarding to the opportunity of having Tealet’s products shown and promoted in our app. Her comments were very positive, about them be willing to work with us because our app is engaging. Although “Finding a way to make money out of tea is hard” she said, and she’s right because in this industry the app market is very segmented. Making thousands of people download our app and believe in it is a tenacious work to do: although the USA and other countries in North America, Europe and Asia are one of our targets, we need to create a big market in order to have the tea producers put an eye on us. We want to grow the market in Colombia as well, because we know there are more people now drinking tea in here, also the “tea market in South America has a lot of potential” as Elyse said, meaning that we have another bunch of countries to explore, besides the usual.
Having focused our team efforts on creating a prototype for Smartea App to validate on week 4, I sent the interactive pdf to Elyse as well and she shared it with more people in the steepster community, which I found particularly great because we’ve got feedback from more people and thus helped us define the revenue model.
I consider Tealet.com as a partner and Elyse as a friend. Counting on another startup company who’s been through our process and on its owner who is open to give us good insights about the business, lands us to a more serious environment, where we know we need to stimulate and keep good relationships with the market, from the customers to the key partners and the channels, making them a win-win element that we can use to start growing.